Can action group show East Cambridgeshire District Council is wrong to claim massive support for 500 homes in their village? The jury is out

PUBLISHED: 13:14 14 March 2019

An artist's impression of what Kennett could look like as a garden village. However a local action group is challenging claims by East Cambs Council the 500 homes planned for the village enjoy widespread support. Picture: ARCHITECT.

An artist's impression of what Kennett could look like as a garden village. However a local action group is challenging claims by East Cambs Council the 500 homes planned for the village enjoy widespread support. Picture: ARCHITECT.

Archant

An action group believes it has sufficient support to torpedo East Cambridgeshire District Council's multi million pound proposals to build 500 homes in its second smallest village.

Kennett Action Group says the list of objectors is growing and the opposition to the proposals is now widespread among the community; they also point out that even the parish council is against it.

East Cambs Council has put much of its future strategy into maintaining and expanding its community led development portfolio.

However where its ambition in places such as Stretham and Wilburton have remained relatively low key, the proposals for Kennett are an altogether more ambitious and some argue unwieldy proposition.

The plans are being put forward through a joint arrangement with the council, its trading arm Palace Green Homes and the family who own much of the land.

Outgoing council leader Charles Roberts admits there is “significant potential profit” in Kennett for the taxpayers of East Cambs “and you know that I don’t apologise for that.

“That potential profit empowers the council to actually deliver the homes even at a time when there is a lull in the market.

“It is inherent in the community led development strategy to make sure sites get built out in a timely way. That does not happen if left to the market as land is often ‘banked’ until the market is at the desired level.”

Cllr Roberts said: “We have given permissions for 5000 homes in East Cambs that remain not built and frankly we have very little power to change that.

“The frustration and perversity is that the developers failure to build is what undermines our five year land supply situation and therefore essentially allows planning applications where they may not be wanted!.”

He said of the Kennett scheme that “the levels of potential profit are a fraction of those that the market would seek because the housing densities are lower, the quality higher and the roads and other infrastructure much better”.

However the Kennett Action Group believes it has the numbers and support to halt the scheme either before it goes to the planning committee of the council or should the Government call a public inquiry to decide it.

An action group spokesman said the Kennett Community Land Trust “does not represent the views of the people of this village”.

The spokesman said online objectors and those who signed a petition outnumbered the support shown by the land trust. He added that not only did Kennett Parish Council renew its opposition on Tuesday, but Kentford, Moulton and Herringswell parish councils also objected and Newmarket Town Council remained opposed.

Cambridgeshire County Council will look at the scheme today (Thu) setting out the requirements for schools, public transport and local services that will be required if the application is approved.

However councillors on the economy and environment committee will be told that the county council has put in place a holding objection as the applicant “has failed to demonstrate how the site will be made sustainable from a public transport perspective”.

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